Nature sometimes has very strange ways of manifesting itself. Despite having many disadvantages against bigger predators, some animals manage to develop incredible defense systems.
The bombardier beetle is not a species that seems to be special on the surface or very different from any other type of beetle at first sight. It inhabits all over the world except Antarctica and it’s carnivorous, it usually comes out of its den at night to feed on other insects.
But what makes this beetle so interesting? Recently a study was able to verify how this species of beetle manages to preserve its life in one of the most impressive ways that exist.
When threatened, the bombardier beetle expels a hot substance from the lower part of its abdomen, a toxic mixture of hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide with a popping sound that can scare anyone.
The beetles are one of the favorite prey of most species of frogs so seeing them whets their appetite and immediately makes them throw their sticky long tongue to catch and eat them, the bombardier beetle seems to put up no resistance and goes resigned to its death.
But something happens inside the frog, it starts to move weird, and finally, it vomits the entire body of the beetle covered in digestive acids that have literally just released a hot and poisonous chemical into the frog’s stomach as its last survival mechanism.
The videos are impressive, and you can clearly see when the toad regurgitates the explosive beetle which in turn undertakes its escape as best it can while the frog simply ignores it, while probably its stomach hurts a bit after what happened.
Of the beetles, at least 43% managed to escape after being swallowed by the frogs and 93% were still alive two weeks after their near-death experience, which means that the mechanism is extremely effective.
All insects, the more than 1.7 million known species, have internal or external defense chemical processes that allow them to survive: “That is why they have been so successful in surviving evolutionary pressures,” says Athula Attygalle analytical chemist at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ.
We hope that the research on this and other incredible animals will continue, and that nature will continue to impress us with its ways of balancing the balance of force.